John Coleman, a NYT reader in Virginia reports the following conversation about the NYT’s coverage of Obama’s speech to AIPAC:
This morning, while I was reading about President Obama’s presentation yesterday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, I came upon this sentence: ‘“He basically said, ‘I can continue defending you to the hilt, but if you give me nothing to work with, even America can’t save you,’ ” said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator and a fellow at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan research group.”’ (emphasis added) Seeing this reference to the New America Foundation caused me to question the accuracy of this statement so I wrote an email to Helene Cooper, the author. I said, “Calling the New America Foundation a “nonpartisan research group” is like calling the New Black Panthers a wildlife conservation group. A simple click of your mouse would show that the NAF is top-heavy with administration supporters, notably George Soros and his Open Society folks as well as every liberal and leftwing group you can think of. Hardly nonpartisan, I would say!”
To my surprise, Ms Cooper replied almost immediately and partially accepted my complaint, saying that she would pass it along to the editors in NYC who apparently inserted the language to which I had objected:
“Formally, because they are a 501 3c organization, they are non partisan. Also, they get funding from people besides soros. Steve clemons, one of their top guys, came from the nixon center.
That said, you raise a very good point. They’re not as democratic as center for american progress, but they are close. And we certainly don’t call cap nonpartisan, even though they are a 501 3c too.
I will talk to the desk in new york about this. I didn’t characterize naf as nonpartisan in the story when I wrote it, so someone in ny must have done so during editing, cos it nytimes style to say which way a think tank leans. Higher paygrade then me will have to make the decision on naf, but I will bring up your point.” Helene Cooper
I sent her back a short email in which I reminded her that the IRS code that allows 501c3 status does not require nonpartisanship, and, therefore cannot be interpreted in reverse to indicate such. The IRS, I mentioned, only requires that a “substantial” portion of the organization’s activity cannot be to influence legislation or participate in political partisan activities. The word “substantial” is difficult at best to define and, besides, the NAF performs educational and other types of activities that satisfy the IRS’s non-profit status as 501c3. This, I said, is far from meaning in any way that the organization is “nonpartisan.”
One small step for man; one giant step for the NY Times….